Narrative participation within game environments: role-playing in massively multiplayer online games
Chan, Pauline B.
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Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) present fantastic, persistent worlds and narratives for a community of players to experience through pre-defined rules, roles, and environments. To be able to offer the opportunity for every player to try the same experiences, many game developers have opted to create elaborate virtual theme parks: scripted experiences within static worlds that cannot be affected or changed through player actions. Within these games, some players have turned to role-playing to establish meaningful connections to these worlds by expanding upon and subverting the game's expectations to assume a limited sense of agency within the world. The interaction between role-players and the locations they occupy within these worlds is a notable marker of this narrative layering; specific locations inform social codes of conduct, designed by developers, and then repurposed by players for their characters and stories. Through a qualitative case study in World of Warcraft on public role-playing events, this thesis considers how the design of in-game locations inform their use for role-playing, and how locations are altered through storytelling as a result.